Maggots Not Problem at Fresno Morgue, New Building Needed

June 9, 2009 10:07:42 PM PDT
The Fresno county coroner has waited over a decade for a new morgue facility. Tuesday, forensic pathologists were told to wait again until supervisors can find the money. Action News reporter John-Thomas Kobos spoke to the chief pathologist about maggots living in the morgue and why the county cannot afford to wait for a new building.In May, the conditions at the Fresno County Coroners office took a sickening turn. Maggots crawled out of cracks in the floor, wall and even the ceiling. After this story aired on Action News, a cleaning crew came it to eradicate them.

Dr. Venu Gopal said for now the maggots are gone but this is only a temporary solution to a much bigger issue.

"We are trying to put a band-aid on a band-aid for a chronic problem," said Gopal.

County workers are used to dealing with maggots out in the field -it's a part of their job. But what they're not used to is maggots breeding inside the morgue. They've even had some fall from the ceiling.

Cracks in the floor need constant repair. The morgue's only source for cooling is a swamp cooler which does little when the temperatures hit the triple digits. And since 2000, 20% more bodies are filling up an already crowded morgue.

"This community deserves a better facility," said Dr. Gopal at Tuesday's board meeting.

Dr. Gopal again asked the county to consider granting $24-million to build the new morgue at its proposed future location in south Fresno.

But supervisors again delayed funding for the project, stating they need to find out how bad the county will be hurt by the state's budget cuts.

"The replacement of the coroner facility is the number one priority and unfortunately we do not have enough money in the piggy-bank to pay the bill," said supervisor Judith Case.

If the project does get the green light, construction will take at least two years. Gopal and his team have already waited more than ten years, now they'll have to wait some more.

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